When you hear the words “end user computing”, what do you think of?  If you’re in infrastructure & operations (I&O), you might think about the corporate standard laptop or desktop you’ve just selected that over the next couple of years you’ll provision to most of your employees. Or your corporate standard OS image that you stamp on those systems; locked-down, loaded with the management  & security agents and corporate apps you think those employees need. Or perhaps even the corporate standard smartphone that you’ve handed out to the employees who needed mobile email access. You might think of these things because they all help I&O organizations deliver and support technology for employees more efficiently. These techniques help you address the historical “ask” from your colleagues outside of IT: “Give us technology while absolutely minimizing the impact you have on our bottom line


Others in your business see it differently

Your company is full of employees passionate about driving the business forward – and they think you’re just making their lives harder. They see new touchscreen laptops and tablets that they’d love to bring on the road, rather than the 6lb laptop that takes more than 6 minutes to boot up and they pray will get 2 hours off the battery. According to Forrester's Forrsights Workforce Employee Survey, 45% of Gen X’ers workers and 51% of Gen Y & Z’ers say they have better technology at home. They want easier access to new productivity enhancers like a simple screen sharing app so they can quickly get feedback from a colleague on something they’re working on or a cloud-based storage app that gives them consistent access to files they’re working on no matter where they are or on what device.  


They think “one-size fits all” is getting snug – and they’re willing to go around you to find productivity.


The call for change

When is absolute efficiency not ideal? When you optimize around the wrong set of requirements. I&O’s well-intended, bottom line-friendly approach of driving absolute efficiency by limiting technology choices and locking devices down is now driving an expanding rift between IT and the businesses we serve.


Reversing this trend means rethinking and evolving many of the ways that you deliver technology to the people who drive your business. Forrester has developed the Workforce Enablement Playbook to help I&O leaders take the aging “end user” computing model of tactical, inwardly-focused technology delivery and transform it into a strategic, business-focused model that drives employee engagement and enhanced productivity. We call changes like this making the shift from IT to BT (Business Technology). The first step is easy: throw out the term “user”, as my colleague Glenn O’Donnell put it: The only other time we use that term is for drug abusers — but it’s people that drive our businesses.

Like all of Forrester’s other Playbooks, the Forrester Workforce Enablement Playbook is a practical guide packed with our research and recommendations in our 4 phase approach:


Discover: Our reports in the discover phase focus on the current state and future of end user — or better stated — workforce computing. The first report, “Habitat for Engagement: Unleash Workforce Potential With Agile Enablement”, shows the trends driving a re-think of your workforce computing strategy and introduces Forrester’s “Agile Workforce Enablement” approach to evolve how we think about people, process, and technology. The report “Five Seismic Forces Reshuffle The Workforce Vendor Ecosystem” takes this concept and shows how it’s re-shaping the ecosystem of vendors you bring in to help. Finally, the report “Building The Business Case For A Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) Program” tackles one of the stickiest parts of this initiative: determining the real financial impact and how to make a business case for change.


Plan: In the planning phase of the playbook, we focus on how to get started. “Assess Your Workforce Computing Maturity” helps you assess how your current state compares to your desired state across 48 domains of oversight, people, process and technology. “Build Your Workforce Computing Strategic Plan” assists I&O leaders in formulating a strategy that outlines the mission, scope, goals, and objectives of your workforce enablement program. The report “Build A Road Map For Workforce Computing” focuses on how to put together a long-term technology plan.


Act: This phase of the playbook centers on putting the plan into action. The report “Redefine Your Workforce Computing Policy to Empower Employees” shares how to build business-friendly technology policies to help educate employees on technology use. In upcoming reports we focus on the organizational change that can help and the skills you’ll have to develop in your I&O staff and the impact on how you select technology and support services that lay the foundation.


Optimize: A workforce enablement strategy is an ongoing program, not a one-time planning event. The report “Develop The Workforce Computing Balanced Scorecard” leverages the Balanced Scorecard methodology and helps you measure your performance internally. In upcoming reports, we’ll be updating our Benchmark report so that I&O leaders know what their peers in other organizations are doing and other reports focuses on continued improvement processes.


The Workforce Enablement Playbook is living, so be sure to check back regularly.  In addition to the core research for each phase, we add additional drill-downs and toolkit material in the form of reports, presentations, and spreadsheets to support you along the way.


To get started, I suggest reading the executive overview that sets the stage for and the entire Playbook. It introduces the issues chipping away at traditional end-user computing thinking and how I&O leaders can take these as a spark to ignite a change. From there, read “Habitat For Engagement: Unleash Workforce Potential With Agile Enablement” that describes a new way of thinking about how to be a business enabler and the changes that need to happen in the way you think about people, process and technology. For a more hands-on approach, Forrester Consulting offers full-day workshops and consulting projects aligned to each phase of your workforce computing strategy.

So what do you think? How does Forrester’s vision of workforce enablement compare to yours?  Our team of analysts Dave Johnson, J. P. Gownder, Christian Kane, Michele Pelino, and I want to know if this resonates with you.